What a beautiful ride. The scenery was magnificent, especially in the lower two thirds of the ride. The final third involved more towns, train yards, and city life. We met great people: a couple in their 70's from New Zealand riding from Washington D.C. to Niagara Falls, a man who organizes educational tours to Israel, and some local riders (one man is 76 and he limits his miles per day to his age.) (I took this picture as we approached the eastern continental divide.)
Let me tell you one story in this blog. On the third day of riding we expected to get to Pittsburgh. We thought it would be about a 58 mile ride. There were three hotels near the trail about 7 miles short of Pittsburgh from which we thought we would choose. We did not make a reservation, because we did not know how far we could ride and good we would feel. As we headed into Pittsburgh, we went by these hotels, somewhere around 1 p.m. We decided to push on and not stop to reserve a room. We wanted to finish.
Well, we finished, and we turned around. We got back to them around 3:00 p.m. We could have had the last room available as it turned out, but I was uncomfortable leaving the bike and trailer outside at the suggestion of the hotel clerk. I also thought we would go the hotel next door which advertised bike storage. Wrong answer! That hotel was booked. The only other hotel near the trail had no room in the inn also. I stood and tried to check for other hotels in the area via smart phone and asking people. There were none unless we wanted to ride back to Pittsburgh. So, after purchasing a gallon of water, we headed south back along the trail. We came to Boston, PA which had an establishment with guest rooms, but they were full. Another establishment in that town had a phone number that did not work. We thought of some camp grounds along the way, plus Nancy remembered a bed and breakfast in West Newton.
We came to West Newton, just before we would have camped at a campground with the only amenity being a toilet (not the flush type)and a spicket. However, in West Newton we found the bed and breakfast Nancy remembered. It had a room available. Not only that, the gentlemen was quite gracious. He gave us a discount, plus a carafe of ice water with lemons. Realizing we were tired, he didn't even make us pay until the next morning. (We could have stayed the night and left early.) Wow, God brought us to a great place.
We had ridden 96 miles that day. Nancy and I had never ridden together more than 44 miles in our training. We doubled that. We lived to tell about it. Even more, we rode 73 miles the next day. We turned our six day trip into a five day trip. But here is my point. We were pushed to a place way outside our comfort zone and way outside our abilities. We never dreamed of riding so far in so little time. I tell you this, because we often set goals that are small, often based on comfort. But because we had a motivation, a need for a place to sleep, we kept riding. Sometimes we need to dig deep to find the motivation of our heart to push us further than we ever had, to push ourselves to excel. We often settle for less. By the way, there is no way we could have accomplished this without the Lord being our strength. Also, I doubt if we could have accomplished that distance without ever having trained. That training which I wrote about prepared us for things we never dreamed.
Much more could be said about the ride, and maybe I will write more later. Believe it or not, I do have a wife who is willing to do another similar ride, but not until the seat recovers.